Question Meaning of "if all rear seats are occupied" in regards to hard 3 - across

bobandjess99

Senior Community Member
So..i was pondering this. We all know kids should be in the back if possible. And, in fact, some states laws actually include the requirement that all kids ride in the back, usually with some sort of clause about "unless all rear seats are occupied by other children".

BUT..I'm wondering about the legal and practical definitions and applications of "if possible" To what extent do you think this applies?

For example, we all know that in some vehicles, getting 3 across the back can be hard and/or require a very specific set of seats, sometimes very expensive seats.

So...lets say you want to transport 3 kids. (And, for the sake of the question, lets say that not transporting them isn't an option you are willing to choose. While some of us on this board might say "if i cant transport all the children optimally i simply wont drive them" I think we all know that only a very tiny fraction of the general population would even consider that option.)

And lets say your car is like mine, and has an atrocious backseat. 3 across *can* be done, but only with very specific seats, and only in certain confugurations.
What is the standard here? Not best practice, but like..on a practical everyday level. Does the standard for requiring children to be in the backseat "unless all rear seating positions are filled" apply if say, 2 of the 3 positions are filled, but yet you can NOT fit another seat in the 3rd spot? What about if there ARE certain configurations that *could* work, but they aren't the seats you have? What if the only seats that would work aren't seats you can afford? What if fitting the 3rd child back tyhere means that to get a configuration to work, you would have to reduce the safety of a different child, like if you had to turn a 18 month old FFing because the configuration only worked if the seats were FFing?
And to what level of exertion should a parent be required to go to to make all this happen? What if the seats needed to be changed around to make everything work? Is it reasonable to expect a parent to redo their seats once a month, twice a week, every other day?

I was thinking about this because my backseat is worthless and only a very select 3 acorss situations work in it. The seat that work in it are not my childrens primary seats, and would therefore require a complete uninstall of the primary seats, install of the configuration that works, then the uninstall of the 3-a configuration, then re-install of the primary seats.
Is it reaonable to expect someone to do that instead of just putting a kid in the front for a 5 minute ride because your child asks a friend over and you go to pick them up? And, even though I actually do HAVE some of the seats that make a workable 3-across, what if I didn't? would it be reasonable to require me to purchase new seats specifically for 3-acrosses? And I wondered, on the trip, if I were to be stopped for some reason, would a cop try to/be able to cite me for not putting the child in the back, since there was technically a seating position open, even though the amount of space that "seating positionj" provided was not even CLOSE to being enough to accomodate the childs car seat?


Anyway..just looking for what other people think. No need to spout the hardline carseat fanatic posiiotn..yes, of course, in a perfect world we would all have giant vehicles that could transport everyone in comfort, and be able to afford every carseat we wanted, or be able to just never drive, etc but I'm talking about real world practical applications here....
 
ADS

babyherder

New member
Well I think most cops, after seeing 3 giant seats in your car, would agree that you can't fit them all in the backseat. So I'm not sure what would happen. You might get a cop that starts insisting that your boostered kid should squish into the middle without a seat. I don't know. Does a seating position count as "occupied" if it has half of a carseat in it?
 

abacus2

Well-known member
I would imagine as far as enforcement of the law and practical application goes, three carseats with one in the front seat would be allowed. In fact, many people I've talked to were shocked to discover it was possible to fit three carseats across in any car.
 

karlatta

New member
Well, I do reinstall seats when we transport a friend. In your situation, I would ask if there were a way to change the primary seats so that they were 2 of the 3 that can be installed three across. It sounds like you do this pretty frequently.

That being said, I don't think a police officer would give a ticket if your back seat was full of car seats.
 

christineka

New member
Personally, I would not offer nor accept watching other people's kids if I couldn't fit them all in rear seating positions. If you run a daycare, normally have a van, but it is broken, so you have to use the car for a day or two, putting a kid up front is more of an emergency back up solution. If I owned a car and had 3 kids or just enough to fit in the rear seats, I would not babysit one more kid whether because I needed the money or the parent needed the kid babysat. If I had just enough kids to fit in the back of my vehicle and could not afford a bigger one, I would try my hardest to not have another child. If it happened anyway and I still couldn't afford a bigger vehicle, I'd put a kid up front while doing all I could to obtain a larger vehicle. If I normally had a bigger vehicle and it broke beyond repair with no funds to replace, so I had to use a smaller vehicle for an indefinite amount of time, I would, but scrimping, saving, and doing all I could to get a bigger vehicle. I believe there are few circumstances that arise where there really are no options but to put a child up front. Quite often the babysitter has to back out at the last minute because of illness and it sucks for me, but I always find another solution.
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
In CA, there's actually a clause about "the seat cannot be properly installed in the back seat" that allows for transport in the front seat in such a case (or in the case of a kid in a booster in a car with lap-only in the back, for instance.)
 

carseatcoach

Carseat Crankypants
What is the standard here? Not best practice, but like..on a practical everyday level. Does the standard for requiring children to be in the backseat "unless all rear seating positions are filled" apply if say, 2 of the 3 positions are filled, but yet you can NOT fit another seat in the 3rd spot? What about if there ARE certain configurations that *could* work, but they aren't the seats you have? What if the only seats that would work aren't seats you can afford? What if fitting the 3rd child back tyhere means that to get a configuration to work, you would have to reduce the safety of a different child, like if you had to turn a 18 month old FFing because the configuration only worked if the seats were FFing?
And to what level of exertion should a parent be required to go to to make all this happen? What if the seats needed to be changed around to make everything work? Is it reasonable to expect a parent to redo their seats once a month, twice a week, every other day?

Yes, I think it's reasonable to expect parents to reinstall seats regularly if that's what's needed to keep all kids in the back.

I also think it's reasonable to try to assure at least minimal safety for all kids, so yes, I think it's reasonable to require an 18mo to be FF so a 5yo can be in the backseat. Sucky, but reasonable in the eyes of the law.

I personally think it's reasonable to refuse to transport an additional child in a non-emergent situation if you cannot afford the seats necessary to keep them all safe. I don't think the average police officer will look at a GN and and EFTA in back and a 5yo up front and tell you to get an XTSL and a RSTV and a Coccoro.
 

karlatta

New member
Well, I do reinstall seats when we transport a friend. In your situation, I would ask if there were a way to change the primary seats so that they were 2 of the 3 that can be installed three across. It sounds like you do this pretty frequently.

That being said, I don't think a police officer would give a ticket if your back seat was full of car seats.
 

rodentranger

New member
I think it's reasonable to put the largest harnessed child in the front seat. I would not put the hypothetical ff 18 mo there though.


Though, the woman I saw leaving Costco one day with two MA/DC's in the rear seat of her Camry and the Regent in the front seat....I would have suggested that she instead buy RNs and a ??? instead since she spend the ~$900 anyway.
 

flipper68

Senior Community Member
I've run into this scenario a couple of times at check events.

1) Older vehicle - lap belt only, but 1 child too large for harnessed seat. That child was seated in the front seat (moved all the way back) with booster and l/s belt. There wasn't an alternative for the child to "leave safer than she arrived" w/o using the front seat. [At that time, the local safe kids didn't have HWH options - it was a booster or nothing.]

2) On at least 2 other occasions there were 4 kids in a sedan. We ended up with a younger child harnessed in the front because 3 across DID NOT work. The coalition only purchases 1-2 seat options: Tribute/Scenera_Chase/Maestro_Big Kid/Turbo).

Personally, I think you do the best you can with the resources available. To me, that means: EVERYONE is buckled or harnessed in a seating position that allows for proper use of a child restraint if needed. If that means a child in the front seat, so be it. It's not that's is "unsafe," it's that it is not the gold standard of "safest," or ideal. At the same time, the argument could be made that such a scenario is the safest because all passengers are properly restrained. JMO
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Though, the woman I saw leaving Costco one day with two MA/DC's in the rear seat of her Camry and the Regent in the front seat....I would have suggested that she instead buy RNs and a ??? instead since she spend the ~$900 anyway.

Since Camrys don't have a TA for the front seat, and the Regent requires tethering over a certain weight, it's quite possible that that seat was misused anyway (or would be soon, unless she had installed an aftermarket TA...)
 

rodentranger

New member
Since Camrys don't have a TA for the front seat, and the Regent requires tethering over a certain weight, it's quite possible that that seat was misused anyway (or would be soon, unless she had installed an aftermarket TA...)

I thought about that. There were no kids at all in the car when I saw it. I'm hoping she was just transporting the Regent to go into another car. I've had my Frontier "boostered" in my front seat a few times, bringing it back from my SIL's house with five of my six rear belts already occupied with installed CRs. The remaining belt barely had 7 inches between the other seats in my third row, so obviously the FR wasn't going there!:p
 

Car-Seat.Org Facebook Group

Forum statistics

Threads
219,445
Messages
2,200,412
Members
13,366
Latest member
hmezzacasa

You must read your carseat and vehicle owner’s manual and understand any relevant state laws. These are the rules you must follow to restrain your children safely. All opinions at Car-Seat.Org are those of the individual author for informational purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect any policy or position of Carseat Media LLC. Car-Seat.Org makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. If you are unsure about information provided to you, please visit a local certified technician. Before posting or using our website you must read and agree to our TERMS.

Maxi Cosi is a proud sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!Graco is a Proud Sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!Nuna Baby is a Proud Sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!

Please  Support Car-Seat.Org  with your purchases of infant, convertible, combination and boosters seats from our premier sponsors above.
Shop travel systems, strollers and baby gear from Britax, Chicco, Clek, Combi, Evenflo, First Years, Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Safety 1st, Diono & more! ©2001-2021 Carseat Media LLC

Top